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Sustainable plantation forest management closer


Sustainable plantation forest management a step closer

The New Zealand forest industry is a step closer to having a national standard for sustainable plantation forest management.

After 18 months of deliberations, stakeholders in the industry have released a draft national standard for public consultation.

The draft national standard covers environmental sustainability, health and safety conditions for workers, public access to forests, protection of Maori cultural values and employment for local people.

NZ Forest Owners' Association (NZFOA) chief executive, Rob McLagan, says the development of a draft national standard is a significant step for the industry.

"New Zealand's plantation management standards are already amongst the best in the world. However, it is important for the industry and for the country that these standards are uniformly high and show continuous improvement." Forest certification verifies that companies are growing and harvesting wood under conditions acceptable to all stakeholders and which are certified by a credible third party.

The National Initiative Working Group (NIWG), which developed the draft national standard, plans to seek endorsement from international certifying body, The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), once the national standard is finalised.

The NIWG includes representatives of forest owners, environmental organisations, Maori and social groups to ensure the impact of forestry operations were considered from all angles.

Both the NZFOA and the NZ Forest Industries Council (NZFIC) are represented on the group.

NZFIC chief executive, Stephen Jacobi, says the national standard will help ensure market acceptance for New Zealand forest products.

"An assurance of sustainability will appeal to the consumers and retailers in the United States and Europe who are asking for wood from sustainably managed forests," Mr Jacobi said.

"Within New Zealand, a national standard will also improve the industry's environmental performance."

Rob McLagan says the draft standard was developed in a spirit of good will amongst all the interests.

“This is a positive outcome of the good relationship between the forest industry and environmental organisations which was established as a result of the signing of the Forest Accord 10 years ago. The spirit of partnership has now been extended to Maori and social partners, who were not associated with the Accord."

The draft is open for public comment until 7 February 2003.

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